Friday, 15 June 2012

The joys of a solitary traveller...

I have always loved travelling. People who know me well also know how passionate I am about it. Be it the cultural treasure troves of India or the charming cities of Italy, I am up for it all! I’ve mostly travelled with my family and, after joining college, with friends. However, UK has been a different experience. Here I’ve had to travel alone most of the time. So far I’ve gone to Liverpool, Cambridge and London by myself and to Scotland with an organised tour. Initially I was a bit apprehensive about travelling alone. Being the chatter box that I am, I couldn’t fathom keeping quiet for such long intervals of time.  Plus there was the thing about taking pictures, who’ll take my pics? :D

But after travelling solo, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not all that bad. When you’re in a group you have to always make sure that everyone is comfortable and have to compromise to make everyone happy. Travelling alone eliminates that. You can move at your own pace without thinking about what anyone else feels. So I spent a lot of time casually strolling through the Kensington Garden which I know wouldn’t have been possible had I been traveling with my nature-averse brothers. Plus, when travelling with others so much time is spent clicking each other’s pics that you forget to live the moment you are in. Then what you remember is just the photo that you took, your memory sifted through a camera lens. This time I spent more time just looking at the places than constantly clicking pictures. I took a few good shots of the place and then enjoyed the moment and the place. After all, what picture can describe what I felt the moment I entered Rose garden? With the scintillating combination of different scents coming at me from all corners, and beautiful flowers in full bloom beckoning me to take a closer look, with bees buzzing in and out of red roses and quick squirrels playing hide and seek…. 

Which picture can do justice to the peace I felt then? What I remember of it now is fresh in my heart, where it’ll remain. If I was travelling with someone I would have missed the small things which I witnessed during this trip.
The journey without travel mates also gave me a lot of time to reflect. I was away from the internet, no friends, no distractions which gave me the mental time and space to actually sit and think.  And I can’t explain how precious that time is, when you can dig out your deepest thoughts and run it over with your heart.  When you can look at your past and dream about your future without any care about the present. I think about faith, about my relationships with those around me, about my studies…even the silliest of things!

When travelling alone I observe those around me. Sometimes while sitting by the window at a cafĂ© I can look out for hours at end just breathing in the life around me. Yesterday I had such a wonderful time eating at a Thai restaurant, savouring the spices in the meal and taking in the scenes outside. Mothers pushing strollers through the pavement, occasionally peering into the pram, checking on their babies. Teenage girls returning from school, texting while walking, avoiding lampposts with heads down. Businessmen in crisp suits, with suitcases in hand, rushing home from work. Kids on scooters, racing each other, oblivious to their parents’ warning.  How could I’ve seen this if I was busy talking to someone over my meal?
It was as though life knew I was a bit lonely, so she gifted me a few snapshots of herself and love around me, just to keep me company. 

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